25th February 2011
Both industry and conservation organisations urge Government to review the withdrawal of the ALSF so that aggregates levy funding continues to be made available. The ALSF helps ensure that biodiversity and nature conservation improvements are maximized through minerals industry activity. It has been a great example of central and local government, voluntary and conservation bodies, local communities and industry all working together to generate real environmental and social benefits. There remains great potential for further progress which Government can continue to support through future ALSF funding.
Thanks to the ALSF Buglife has worked very successfully with minerals companies to take steps to save the White-clawed crayfish from extinction.
White-clawed crayfish (Austropotamobius pallipes)© John Mason
The ALSF aims to reduce the environmental impacts of aggregates extraction and deliver benefits to areas subject to these impacts. It is the means by which about 6% of the Aggregates Levy revenue has been recycled into communities, non government organisations (NGOs) and other stakeholders to fund projects delivering conservation, local community and other sustainability benefits. The ALSF was introduced at the same time as the Aggregates Levy in April 2002.
The Aggregates Levy generates more than £300 million of revenue annually. This will rise by £15 million pa when the levy rate is increased in April 2011. Total ALSF spending has averaged £20 million pa.
Defra, which administers the ALSF, has announced that it is scrapping the ALSF because it “did not represent a core activity for the Department.” However, an independent assessment commissioned by Defra in 2010 concluded that “Overall, the value for money assessment is good and many areas offer evidence of excellent potential value for money particularly in the medium term.”
The ALSF has funded a wide range of conservation projects producing outstanding results of both national and local importance, and the ALSF funded Nature after Minerals project has identified that the restoration of quarries has the further potential to meet and exceed a significant share of the UK Biodiversity Action Plan.
Matt Shardlow, Buglife Cheif Excecutive said 'With Aggregates Levy funding, Buglife has worked very successfully with minerals companies to take steps to save the White-clawed crayfish from extinction – a Government biodiversity target.
The Levy has proven to be a wonderful way of getting companies to contribute to saving wildlife but, without the funding it provides, small charities will not be able to marshal the expertise, voluntary contribution and enthusiasm to work in partnership with the minerals industry for the good of society. We fear that progress towards saving the endangered White-clawed crayfish could be undone'.
Retention of the ALSF is strongly supported by both industry and leading conservation organisations.